South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss has welcomed a report last week which suggests a review is made of the way funds for flood defences are distributed to take more account of the value of agricultural land.
The report was drawn up by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Commons Select Committee with the recommendation that the government reviews the policy on flood defence funds to take more account of the “economic and social value of agricultural land.”
The report also urges the Environment Agency and Internal Drainage Boards to work more closely together on flood prevention and river maintenance. This is something Ms Truss has been lobbying the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on for some time. Last year she held a meeting in Hockwold with the Environment Agency and local farmers to raise concerns about the lack of maintenance on the River Wissey and loss of farmland to flooding.
She also held a further Flood Summit in May this year in Downham when the head of DEFRA’s National Flood team confirmed that after sustained lobbying by MPs, the Secretary of State was reconsidering the value of agricultural land when assessing flood schemes.
She said: “This announcement by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee echoes very much the case I have been making to the government that farmland is not valued high enough compared to residential and business premises when assessing flood schemes.
“Equally the call for the Environment Agency to work more closely with the internal drainage boards is a logical step. The IDBs have fantastic local knowledge, their expertise on the ground is invaluable and closer collaboration can only be a positive step.
“This is something that I discussed with both the EA and IDBs during May’s flood summit that I held in South West Norfolk and all agreed that this is the way forward.”